Welcome to the Images Through The Door Blog. I started this blog with the thoughts of sharing some thoughts and musings, as well as information and data on upcoming shows, or tips about photography and where I have been lately. I welcome your comments and thoughts. Happy reading!
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We are all in the midst of the Holiday season, and quite often, it's easy to get caught up in the busyness of shopping, parties, family and all the many other things that vie for our attention. So every so often, we need to remind ourselves to let our light shine on others, especially those who may be in need or not have as much as do we in more fortunate settings.
This time of year is replete with giving - so we also need to open our hearts, pantries, wallets, minds and give freely of those as well. When you go grocery shopping, pick up some extra canned goods and donate to your local food pantry or shelter. Clean out your closets of old coats and clothing and blankets that could help warm someone in need. Donate to a charity or organization that may be feeling the pinch of the recession, or donate your time by volunteering to help now or in the future with their needs. It really takes so little to do this, and quite often we find that it helps open us to the real meaning of the season - love, joy, goodness, and gratitude for what we might be taking for granted.
So fellow readers, consider this your notice to take the time out and give of yourself. You may not get a thank you note, but I can tell you from experience that it will warm your heart and soul more than your favorite peppermint mocha. And once you get started, you will find just how easy it is to give, and how much more you receive in return. Let your light shine, and blessings will follow.
Namaste, and all the best wishes for a joyful and loving Holiday,
On this wonderful Thanksgiving, I have so very much for which to be thankful - my husband, friends, family, my freedom and so many other blessings. I am also thankful for you, so today's blog is a simple statement of that. Happy Thanksgiving, and today, count your many blessings!
Thanksgiving is the appointed time
for focusing on the good in our lives.
In each of our days,
we can find small blessings,
but too often we overlook them,
choosing instead to spend our time
paying attention to problems.
We give our energy
to those who cause us trouble
instead of those who bring peace.
let's be on the lookout
for the bits of pleasure in each hour,
and appreciate the people who
bring love and light to everyone
who is blessed to know them.
You are one of those people.
I'm thankful for you.
By Joanna Fuchs
Over the past two weeks I was in Illinois with my Dad and stepmom helping them through a difficult surgery my Dad had to undergo. It was a challenging few days, but he is recovering well now and I returned home to Washington feeling glad I was there to offer help. Each time I spend time with them, I find I have a new learning or revelation that presents itself. This time I had several....
During this trip we spent time in discussion about their lives, their wishes and their thoughts for the future. I wanted to know what they wanted or needed - to understand their desires as the end of their lives draws nearer. What surprised me during that discussion was hearing that to be "important" you had to have possessions. Things were how you established your position or place in life. I saw this belief demonstrated in my stepmom's resistance to give away things she has in storage - many of which she has not even opened or used in years. They, in her mind, belonged to her, and she could not consider letting them go. These things had become her definition of herself, and she was reticent to even think about passing them on to someone who might need or want them.
Our discussion made me stop and closely examine my own life. As we work to understand and grow, valuable learnings often come to us through our own personal experiences, especially those that involve our childhood and family. I found myself asking questions - am I holding onto things in order to validate myself? Am I trying to force my self will without considering the possible outcomes? Am I allowing ego to direct my path rather than walking on the path of no resistance?
The path of no resistance leads us to do the right things. We are on the path when we can gently let go of our need to have our own point of view seen as the only right way; when we no longer need to be right in a discussion or feel compelled to take one side over another without considering all outcomes or possibilities. It is when we understand that we need not place undue value or worth on possessions because we know the abundance the universe provides. When I review and examine events I have regretted, or when I have inadvertently hurt someone else, I know I have ventured off the path of no resistance. I did not allow the natural flow of life and the universe by opening my consciousness to them - rather, I tried to force my way through like the bull in the china shop. When we do this, things - and people - get broken in the process.
To understand the path of no resistance, we must fully tap into the infinite power and knowledge of the universe to guide us. This happens when we are still and silent and listening with our hearts. We can cultivate this awareness through meditative practice - be it in heartfelt prayer, solitude in nature, or formal meditation. These practices open us and connect us with the present moment and place us on the right path - ready to allow life to flow and accept things just as they are. We then understand and know that we are surrounded by the abundance and true guidance of the universe, no matter in which higher power we believe.
When we are open and accept this in our hearts, we understand we are not defined by our possessions, or lack thereof. We know that as inhabitants of this earth we are responsible for each other, and connected to each other through kindness, love and gratitude. We give freely and fully, and without thought of reward or thanks - of our time, our love, our good lives, ourselves. We are happy to share because we understand that giving to others also gives back to us. We know that walking the path helps us let go of the beliefs of who we think we should be and become more connected with who we really are - loving and gentle, kind and generous, fulfilled and guided by goodness, grateful and joyful for each moment.
Listen, and be still, and you will find the path opens to you, just as a clearing in the forest. It is there when our hearts are open.
Red Bridge in Fall
Over the weekend, I led a group of photographers in a workshop I led in one of our special local Pacific Northwest Gardens. We spent a lovely morning exploring subject matter, composition and basics. We marveled at the colors and textures in nature, and how wonderful it is to have subject matter to shoot in all seasons - if you just seek it. At one point, someone remarked at the beauty, and I thought how interesting it is that nature makes the Fall season - one filled with changing colors of leaves as they drop from the branches - so striking and vibrant. Yet, Fall marks the change from growth to death and dormancy of Winter - leaving behind a carpet of those fallen leaves to nourish the earth for the new growth of Spring and new awakening, to begin the cycle of the Seasons again.
Our lives can be compared to nature's seasons - year to year we go through transition, growth and renewal, and experience death and the finality of life. We see that life is always in motion, always changing, moving with or without us. We are the sum of our experiences - our Springs and Summers full of love and learning as well as our Falls and Winters of disappointment and unmet expectations. Do we move through the Seasons of life with the same regularity as Nature, or are we stuck in one, unwilling to change and move?
I found myself asking this question this week as I dealt with a particularly challenging situation - a father who is ill and now needs a serious surgery. I knew I needed to be there, and that meant throwing my life, plans and several events I was happily anticipating completely out of the window. I was upset and sad and a little angry that I was having to cancel plans made months before. I was stuck in my own Winter, bundling myself in my blanket of plans and pity, feeling cold and hard. It took a little bit of time to "thaw" but after I had my moment, I realized that plans were not important and my need was to be with my Dad. Frustrations disappeared, and other events fell into new places due to the kindness and understanding of friends and colleagues.
Life changes constantly. It's ok to be upset and have a "moment" - as long as you let it go and move forward positively. Even when you have difficult challenges and mountains to climb, there will still be glimmers of hope and brightness, like seeing the first flowers breaking through the snow. We will all experience events in life that are sad, losses that we cannot understand or explain, disappointments that may confound us. Our task is to see and understand these as part of our timeline of life, as our Seasons, and move with them just as does Nature. We know that we will experience sadness but also will we have great joys. As Fall and Winter gives forth the bare branches and grey shadows to the vibrant colors of flowers and warm brightness of Spring and Summer, so must we flow gently through our own Seasons, not trying to remain too long in one or another; embracing all that each brings.
So, when you find yourself challenged by a life event, as I found myself, know that it is just a moment, and even though it may be a tough one, there is always hope, love, renewal. Nature shows this truth in all her Seasons. Walk in them, feel them, and know that each has a reason for being. A greater power has connected us with Nature. When we understand this, we learn to live and honor all the Seasons of Life.
In my last few writings, I spoke about finding your own voice, defining your vision, and discovering yourself and your art. Along this thought, I found myself picking up an older book - Galen Rowell's "Inner Game of Outdoor Photography". Published in the early 2001, he based the book on essays he wrote at the time for the magazine "Outdoor Photographer". In these he talks about why doing such things as pre-visualization can help photographers move to making an interesting image rather than just a replica of what they saw through the viewfinder. He wrote to explain and help define how he found his voice and vision, and how that has helped him on his journey as a photographer.
For some people, concepts like pre-visualization and finding your voice and vision feel billowy and new age, yet it is a greatly important part of developing as an artist. Look closely at your own work. It may show you that through your evolution and growth, your voice or vision has become more defined. Yes, we want to grow in technical skills and there are many many photographers and others out there ready to instruct us in technical aspects of photography and processing. But technical skills, no matter how refined, won't really make that silk purse out of the sow's ear. If you work on only technical skill without balancing that with work that challenges your artistic side, you may become a great technician, but you will likely not become a great artist.
Art is risking, exploring, taking chances. It's like life - you can stay as you are today or you can reach to learn, grow, extend yourself and be more. If you see your work and confine yourself to only a specific subject matter without exploration of other ideas, you become confined and comfortable. And I'm not talking about comfortable in a good way, rather comfortable as more like complacent. Art - life is about pushing boundaries and pushing yourself. It's about getting excited about trying something new, even though it may make you anxious and uneasy. That's good - it opens you to new areas of exploration and experimentation!
And, as I have said before, while you are working, be kind to yourself. Don't judge or over analyze - don't look for perfection! Allow freedom of expression and just let it happen. Don't stop and think about every minute detail - just take the shot! If it calls to you, if you feel a spark, it will resonate in your work. Your work is your voyage of personal discovery. Be one with it, immerse yourself fully in it. Feel it in your soul, and if you don't, try something different until you find that thing that grabs you.
Finding your voice as an artist and as a person is about the journey. We change, we evolve, we learn about ourselves as we walk the path - as long as we remain open to the new learnings presented to us along the way. And Rowell's thought of pre-visualization can apply to our lives - the more we "see" things occurring in our life, the more likely it becomes that they will occur - whether you focus on good things or bad. Professional athletes do this all the time. They "see" how they want to perform, and then use that memory to make it happen. We can do the same in our own way. We can work to see the positive pathway, and open our minds and hearts to positive connections. We can "see" the artist, or person we so want to be if we are open and listening. As Lao Tzu said - " To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders". Believe and find your voice.
Enjoy the journey.......